It’s a party! It’s a ‘que! It’s a barbeTWO! Super clever over here. 😉
Immediately after having Elias’ first birthday I came up with the idea of having a barbecue for his second birthday. Hence the invention “barbeTWO” or BB2 as I like to shorten it. Why that choice when there is literally NOTHING to be found ANYWHERE as far as decor, ideas, etc that use a BB2 theme. THAT is exactly why. Of all the “donut grow up” or “two sweet” or perhaps my personal favorite “baby shark…two…two…two…two” I have yet to find anyone else throwing a barbeTWO. And, I mean let’s face it – barbecue.
Throwing parties are one my absolute favorite things to do and I’m always bombarded with questions like “where did you get ______” and “how did you ______”. I have an open book policy when it comes to hosting events; I will tell anyone anything they want to know. Even my stepdad was asking me where I got the buffet serving utensils and how much I paid….and then he tried to (jokingly) steal them. Haha.
So here’s a run down of the who, what and where of Elias’ BB2. I may have inadvertently left some things out and maybe some details aren’t as specific as you’d like – just ask. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions or go into a bit more detail in the comments! 🙂
I chose an off the bean path local community center. It’s actually an old school house so it has a large kitchen, a gym, an indoor dining area and an outdoor pavilion and when $50 gets you the grounds in their entirety for a full day who can really argue that. We planned on food prep in the kitchen, hosting the barbecue in the pavilion and since it was incredibly humid that day, the kids were able to use the gym to run around in. It worked out perfectly.
This is such a HUGE part of parties for me; I just CANNOT make myself just go to the birthday section of Walmart for an easy party. A majority of the decorations and elements were DIY in some form or another – I did the design and production of the actual display pieces but I did use an Etsy seller to print our custom t-shirts for the party (BUT they were designed by me all on my own – credit, ya’ll! 🙂 )
I went for a modern BBQ restaurant feel that still tied in some classic elements people associate with good old fashioned BBQ. I used black and white gingham and buffalo plaid linens and accents, chose galvanized, wood and chalkboard accents and incorporated pigs tastefully – if such a thing can be said without giggling. Haha.
For the dining tables I went really simple; I used these runners, cut this greenery into thirds and divided it among these similar galvanized pots. For the buffet tables I used these black buffalo plaid tablecloths (our tables were 8ft!) and I used the same pattern only in 4ft rounds for the favor table and the dirty tray table. For the drinks table I used an 8ft cloth and for the gifts I used a 6ft fitted cloth – the fitted cloth makes everything look so much cleaner! On a similar side note: I use Linen Tablecloth every time I buy tablecloths for parties and I absolutely love them – they look great, wash up easy and they are the best price I have found anywhere (if you can wait for their economy tablecloths to go on sale you can typically get half drop 6ft length for around $4 per cloth – I personally can’t tell the difference between the economy and regular varieties and the price point is similar to a “nicer” disposable cloth!)
For my tabletop signs I used these easel style chalkboard signs with these chalk markers. They are reusable and seem to come clean very easily. The “barbecue” sign and the large backdrop sign are actually leftover pieces of MDF from a different project. I just spray painted them with chalkboard paint and traced my design on them (word of caution here: doing it this way results in a permanent sign – the chalk marker WILL NOT wipe off a chalkboard painted anything).
I’ll break this up into three parts: food we served, how we served it and serveware and tableware.
Our main buffet included four meats, three hot sides, four cold sides and chips.
BBQ Pulled Pork / BBQ Beef / BBQ Sriracha Ribs / BBQ Chicken Thighs
BBQ Baked Beans / Mac & Cheese
Broccoli Salad / Potato Salad / Coleslaw / Fruit Salad
*I do not have links to the four “left out” recipes – they are family recipes that have been around awhile but I would be more than happy to write them out if you all are interested 🙂
Our drink station included sweet tea, pineapple lemonade and assorted sodas.
Even before COVID I had planned out the entire party including the buffet layout. (COVID altered it a bit but we’ll get to that in a minute.) I know it sounds really OCD but trust me, planning and over planning are your best friends in the party business. I was able to really think about how I wanted the buffet to look, function and being able to label chafing dishes with sticky notes before the party allowed for a seamless transition from kitchen to buffet since multiple people were involved trekking the food outside. Everyone knew EXACTLY where things should go without me having to direct traffic.
I opted to do a double line buffet so I could have two groups of people going down each side at the same time. Our parties are generally large and it takes quite a bit of time for 80 people to get through a buffet. Lesson learned from Elias’ first birthday. 😉 It sounds easy enough but you do really have to think about things having two sets of serving spoons and tongs for each chafing dish, two stacks of napkins and plates and the logistics of everything lining up and being exactly the same on both sides so there’s no traffic interference.
The COVID precautions we took for the buffet were to provide hand sanitizer (the soap pumps were bought at Dollar Tree and filled with bulk sanitizer) at the beginning of the buffet and providing everyone with a disposable food prep glove to wear while they plated their food. We also heavily encouraged masks (and provided a box of disposable ones) so the majority of people at our party were wearing them.
As far as serveware goes I was able to find some fantastic deals on WebstaurantStore. I am incredibly particular about having everything match and be cohesive so I needed a place that was cheap, had a good variety of items to choose from and…did I mention cheap? 😉
The items I purchased from WebstaurantStore were: buffet spoons and tongs, chip scoops, fast food baskets, deli paper liners, disposable forks, spoons and knives, kraft beverage napkins, butter melters, and mini pie pans. The trick with ordering here is that you really need to order a lot of items to make the shipping cost worth it but I am always planning my next party or event so I try to think ahead and order extras of things I know I will need OR I order fun things for my own house that are WAY more expensive to order from Amazon or somewhere else. For example I ordered some aluminum pizza pans and pizza servers for serving pizzas up Pizza Hut style at home with this order and I’ve got my eye on some mini cast iron skillets for serving individual brownie sundaes at home. (It’s the little things. 😉 )
Other items I used for serving were chafing dish racks from Costco (I actually have a TON of these that I’ve picked up from thrift stores), black full size steam pans, buffalo plaid napkins, the AMAZING galvanized tiered display stand I used for the cupcakes, two 15 gallon galvanized tubs for serving sodas, two smaller galvanized tubs (purchased at Hobby Lobby and no longer available!) lined with buffalo plaid bandanas for serving chips and the chalkboard buffet labels. The crates I used for the cupcake / pie stand were from a local thrift store and I could not be more thrilled with how they looked! And the birthday boys’ personal cupcake stand? A toy Weber grill that I also found at a thrift store but I think it may be the top part of this full size toy set.
I always do two types of favors: ones for the adults and ones for the kids. I had this idea pop into my head while I was planning Elias’ first birthday because we had recently been to soooooo many birthdays where as soon as it’s time to open presents ALL the kids SWARM the birthday boy or girl and try to unwrap their presents, play with the toys or just generally be in the way. (Let’s be honest now: no parent wants to look back through all their kids’ birthday party pictures and have every single picture messed up because someone else’s child was in the way. I love kids and I’m 100% not trying to be a jerk, but that’s the reality folks.)
Solution? Put together goodie bags for the kids to be handed out right before gift opening. I usually include some small toys or favors (this time it was hamburger yoyos, bubbles and soccer hacky sacks), some candy, some sort of fun snack (like Capri Sun pouches and a bag of cookies) and one of whatever favor I made for the adults. This works EXTREMELY well for keeping kids occupied while the birthday boy or girl opens their gifts – the other kids are typically too preoccupied with what is in their bags to care. I packaged them in these buffalo plaid paper bags and displayed them in an oval galvanized tub.
For the adults I made some super adorable mini “charcoal” bags. I did the custom design myself and sent it off to an Etsy seller to have it produced into a rubber stamp. I then stamped these mini kraft bags, filled them with some Palmer’s chocolate double crisp coal, sealed them and displayed them in pig baskets (no longer available from Hobby Lobby!). I had also made a sign that said “keep the BB2 going longer; thanks for celebrating with us” but we had a sort of sudden downpour that managed to get the sign. Luckily I had taken a photo of it before it got ruined.
I also made us custom tee shirts for the party: one each for my husband and myself and two for Elias.
Ours (and one of Elias’) were designed by me; they say “EARMANS BARBECUE / since 2016 / ALL MEAT AND NO VEGGIES” and have a stock sketch image of a pig. I sent in the design to an Etsy seller to have it printed on tee shirts because I have absolutely ZERO clue how to do that. Elias’ second t shirt (see the picture at the top of the post) was done the same way and it says “turnin’ two and ready for ‘que!”.
I absolutely LOVE the way the shirts turned out and they definitely upped the BBQ “restaurant” feel for me.
Extra outfit details for me: gingham headband / Levi’s mom shorts / shoes similar here
Extra outfit details for Elias: Vans / shorts similar here
Hopefully I’ve remembered to include everything – the little details are so hard to remember! If I’ve left something out or you’d like me to go into more detail just let me know! I hope you all enjoyed reading about the party as much as we had fun doing it!